After a long absence Former Finance Minister Amara Konneh is back in the news with a scathing attack on former Vice President Joseph Boakai, accusing him of responsibility for the rift in the Unity Party that saw President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf throwing her weight and support behind CDC candidate George Weah and her subsequent expulsion from the Unity Party, along with several of her close associates.
Mr. Amara Konneh’s outburst against the former vice president came almost immediately following the former vice president’s extension of an olive branch and apology to all those who may have been affected by the fallout from dissension in the ranks of the Unity Party at the time. In the public view, the former Vice President’s action was timely and showed statesmanship and strength of character.
The Daily Observer, on the basis of its coverage of the 2017 electoral process and based on reliable and credible reports, was able to come to the conclusion that President Ellen Sirleaf exerted undue influence on the outcome of the 2017 elections. This was manifestly made clear when, on the cusp of the elections, she invited Elections Magistrates and the Chairman of the National Elections Commission to her home for discussions. Further, the visiting ECOWAS and AU delegations chided her for interference when she was openly called on to “stay above the fray”.
Additionally, as Head of State, she flouted the law by appointing an American citizen as Chairman of the NEC. Further, she failed to ensure that NEC complied with the Supreme Court ruling calling for the clean up of the compromised Voters’ Registry. A top staffer in her office was caught red-handed with voting materials in his home including Voter Registration Card machines but he was never prosecuted. This left the public with a distinct impression that former President Sirleaf was abetting the corruption of the electoral process to ensure that her successor was that of her personal choosing.
Whatever President Sirleaf’s motives may have been for courting opposition candidates and then eventually throwing her full weight behind one was by no means surprising since she had received from candidate Weah repeated pledges that his primary concern would have been the protection of her interests. According to information received from credible sources at the time, this was a pledge that the former Vice President did not or could not provide.
This was probably because credible reports at the time speaking of President Sirleaf’s involvement in the bankruptcy of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) as well as other suspected shady mineral deals were matters for which, according to sources, the former vice President could not provide any guarantees of immunity from accountability. Whatever may have been the case, it became clear to virtually the entire nation that President Sirleaf did not support her vice president’s bid to succeed her.
Whatever may have been the real contentious issues that may have led to the rift in the Unity Party or whatever may have been included on the former Vice President’s said list of grievances are all past gone. The matter is done and irreversible. However, it is difficult to understand just why, after having faithfully served as second in command to President Sirleaf for twelve long years, how come he suddenly became unworthy and unfit to succeed her.
Granted, he may have had a list of grievances, did it not suggest that his concerns had gone unheeded or had been treated with benign neglect? Why was there a breakdown in communication between both individuals such that the gap proved unbridgeable? Fast forward to present, it has now emerged that the gilded promise to protect the interests of President Sirleaf has come crashing down with the former President’s son currently facing criminal charges related to the printing of Liberian dollar banknotes.
Truth be told, President Sirleaf’s inability or failure to manage a transparent change of the guard has grave implications for our nascent democracy because her actions unduly influencing election outcomes through what appeared to be outright manipulation of the electoral process was a very unhealthy development that may adversely impact free and fair elections in the years ahead.
The compromised Voters Registry is still in use and could mar the credibility of future elections. But what is of cardinal importance to the people at this point in time is the rapid economic decline of the economy which has meant increased cost of nearly everything. And the blame is being cast on the former government, and rightly so, for the economic downslide which just did not begin today.
It is the candid view of this newspaper that President Sirleaf cannot be absolved of responsibility for the economic and political quagmire in which the nation currently finds itself. Neither can she justifiably claim that her former vice president should be held responsible for the rift in the Unity Party which led to her eventual expulsion.
But President Sirleaf created her own woes by placing personal interests well above national interests.
And from all indications, former Finance Minister Amara Konneh as a key player in her government helped to undermine the legitimacy of her government with repeated budgetary shortfalls whose long-term effects are being reflected in the continuous downslide of the Liberian dollar against the US dollar and, of course, the political instability which comes along with it.
Recalling Shakespeare in Julius Caesar, “the evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with the bones”. Those who plotted to undermine the former Vice President’s bid to succeed President Sirleaf did so, hoping that he would be remembered as a “frail sleepy-head” incapable of running the affairs of the nation.
President Sirleaf may have perhaps been unmindful of the fact that she was sowing seeds of the calamity now hovering above her. The assurances and promises of protection she so desperately sought were but fleeting moments in time. Now she has to reckon with “unpleasantries” never hitherto imagined and there may just be more in store.